On Christmas, the Church remembers the birth of Jesus Christ. In the middle of winter, when the dark and the cold reign over the world, God sends us his son as a baby that is born in Bethlehem. Let us receive him with open arms and hearts full of joy. Father David shares some thoughts on the readings.

The Church prepares for the birth of Jesus Christ during Advent. The first reading of Christmas eve is from the book of Isaiah: "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; (…) and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:5).


The Gospel reading from the Gospel according to Saint Luke tells the story of the birth of Jesus. According to the narrative, his parents, Joseph and Mary, hurried to Bethlehem from the town of their residence, Nazareth, because of a population census. "While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2:6-7). Here, let us note some elements of the text.

1. We should remember the importance of Bethlehem in the history of the people of Israel. Of course, we immediately link Bethlehem with the figure of David the king and indeed Jesus will be known as "son of David". Bethlehem, for the prophets, is linked to the promise of the reconstitution of the dynasty of David and the kingdom of Israel (cf. Micah 5:1, the first reading on the fourth Sunday of Advent). However, we should also remember the importance of Bethlehem in the days before there was a king in Israel. At the end of the Book of Judges, Bethlehem constitutes a dark place from whence sin spreads out throughout the people of Israel. Micah, from the hills of Ephraim, who builds a sanctuary for a pagan idol, looks for a priest to officiate in his temple and finds him in Bethlehem (Judges 17:7-8). A Levite from the hills of Ephraim brings a concubine from Bethlehem and their tragic story will lead the people of Israel into a period of civil war (Judges 19-21). Bethlehem, at the end of the Book of Judges, is a source of evil and sin – idolatry, prostitution and violence. Bethlehem in this period reminds us perhaps of our own world in its darkest moments. However, God does not abandon Bethlehem and he acts in a surprising way. To Bethlehem, he sends a daughter of the Moabites (a nation that is to be totally and eternally separated from Israel according to the Law, Deuteronomy 23:4). Ruth, who surprises us with the light of her faith, brings light to Bethlehem. Ruth prepares us for the surprise of God in the Virgin Mary who became the mother of Jesus Christ. When the world is in darkness and there is no visible way  to put it to an end… God, like a faithful father, sends his light in a surprising way.

2. The child was laid in the manger. We should remember that a manger is not the habitual place to lay a child that has just been born. Animals eat from the manger. However, the place in which the child is laid prepares us for the great mystery of our Christian faith: Jesus will give his body for our food. "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life" (John 6:54). Jesus did not come into the world to be close to us… closeness is not enough for him. He want to be part of us, to enter into our very being. Paul the Apostle explains that Jesus is his very life: "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Jesus is given to us as a child so that we too might become children, being transformed until we are like him.

3. It is interesting to note that the reason that Jesus is laid in a manger according to Luke is that there was no room in the inn. During Advent, we sought to prepare a place for him so that when he comes he will have a place. However, it is important to note that Luke uses the word "inn" only one other time in his Gospel (in Greek the word is katalu,ma when he describes the place where Jesus will give his body as food to his disciples, "in the inn" (as is written in Luke 22:11: "Where is the inn, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"). When Jesus was born he was laid in a manger because there was no place in the inn however, when the time came and he gave himself to his disciples he did it in the inn.

On Christmas, the disciples of Jesus sense the stupendous joy of his birth because he is the greatest gift that God has given he world: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (John 3:16).